The Lotte Giants lost their second straight game after their trusted ace Na Kyun-ahn struggled. They were unable to overcome a Hanwha Eagles batting lineup that has been in peak hitting form of late.
Lotte lost 4-5 in the seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against Hanwha at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on Friday. After falling to 4-8 the day before, Lotte dropped its second straight game to close out a three-game midweek series with a loss.
Lotte lost an early lead when Na Kyun-ahn, who started the game, unexpectedly struggled against the Hanwha bats. Na was tagged with three runs on eight hits, two home runs, four walks and two strikeouts in four innings.
It started off badly. Na gave up a solo home run to leadoff hitter Lee Jin-young in the first inning. It was a three-pitch, 117-kilometer curveball on a one-pitch, one-strike at-bat.
Na Gyun-ahn didn’t have it easy against the hard-hitting Hanwha bats after that, as he was immediately followed by singles from Kim In-hwan and Chae Eun-sung to put runners on first and second. Choi Jae-hoon and Moon Hyun-bin were hit by pitches to end the first inning.
Na Gyun-an seemed to settle down in the top of the second, getting out of a bases-loaded jam. Things were looking good until the top of the third inning when he walked Choi Jae-hoon with runners on first and second and forced out Noh Si-hwan at second base.
But then came another walk. On the next at-bat, he gave up a two-run homer to Hanwha rookie Moon Hyun-bin. A five-pitch, 132-kilometer forkball in a favorable two-strike count was hit to low center field, and Moon didn’t miss.
He got through the top of the fourth without allowing a run, but a walk to leadoff hitter Chae Eun-sung in the top of the fifth got the Lotte bench moving. Na Gyun-an handed the mound to Jin Seung-hyun to end the game.
Na has been the “Eagle Killer” for Hanwha, going 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in eight career games (four starts), but this night was different. The combination of a fastball that topped out at 147 mph and a forkball, his primary weapon, failed to produce much power. He has been on a roll lately, pitching five consecutive quality starts, but on this day, he was outpitched by Hanwha.
Lotte’s bullpen minimized further runs after Na Gyun-ahn’s replacement and extended the game to the bottom of the ninth on Jack Rex’s dramatic game-tying RBI single with two outs, but ultimately handed Hanwha the win 스포츠토토.